Mill Creek Canyon
Face it: Dogs chase bicycles. So, in a recreation area frequented both by bicyclists and dog-lovers, King Solomon himself couldn’t have found a better solution to the bicycle-dog conundrum than did the U.S. Forest Service: Bicycles are allowed on even days, and dogs can go off-leash on odd days. Mill Creek Canyon provides a quick escape from the vexations of city life to the bucolic Wasatch Mountains, and day picnickers will find the facilities well-equipped. If you choose to drive a car, there is a small per-vehicle access fee, but picnic areas fill up fast on weekends, so call ahead for a reservation. More advanced frolickers will enjoy hiking up Desolation Trail—and, from there, the Wasatch is your oyster.
East Millcreek Road, Salt Lake City, 801-483-5473
2. Liberty Park
3. Memory Grove
BEST MOTORCYCLE RIDE FOR A LONG WEEKEND
Salt Lake City to Spanish Fork Canyon to U.S. 89 to Escalante and Boulder then Home via I-70 to Salina
Basically, you take U.S. Highway 89 to Panguitch and hang a left to Escalante. Highway 89 is dotted with little hamlets that feel a bit European. The entry to Manti with the LDS Temple looming ahead is like heading toward King Ludvig’s Castle. Once in Escalante (about a seven-hour ride with pit stops), grab a room in one of several bed and breakfasts or motels (reservations suggested). In the morning, the leg over to Boulder is an amazing journey through slick-rock country. Switchbacks wind through the sandstone and put your bike yawning over the void more than once. Just before Boulder, the road narrows above 1,000-foot drops with no guardrails to break the view or to restrain your adrenaline. You’ve only begun. The trip over Boulder Mountain to Loa and then to Fremont on State Highway 72 is spectacular. You’ll wind up heading back to Salina on Interstate 70, the most spectacular freeway segment in the world.
BEST REVAMPED CONCERT SERIES
BEST FAMILY HIKE INTO A SLOT CANYON
Little Wild Horse Canyon, San Rafael Swell
Get those Nintendo Wii-addicted kids out into the sandstone by heading to Little Wild Horse. Go to Goblin Valley State Park road off State Highway 24 toward Hanksville and turn right two miles before the park. Drive 5.3 miles to the trailhead. You won’t need technical gear as you make the 9.4 mile loop. But the slots are amazing, many allowing you to touch both sides of the red rock while gazing at a sliver of blue sky far above. Take lots of water; the road connection between two canyons can be long and hot. Watch the weather, a sudden summer thunderstorm can mean flash floods in the narrows. People descend on the place over weekends, but watching your kids’ delight is worth it.
BEST MAKE-OUT SPOT
Whether you prefer nooks or crannies, you and your sugar will find plenty of both among the secluded, romantic spots on hand just a few blocks from downtown Salt Lake City. There’s a whole lotta lovin’ going on at Memory Grove—especially considering it’s a war memorial. Lying in the shadow of the Utah State Capitol, the goings-on here at the mouth of City Creek Canyon would curl many a legislator’s hair—just wrap things up by closing time when the cops throw everybody out.
485 N. Canyon Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-972-7800
2. Capitol Hill
3. Ensign Peak
BEST MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE IN THE WASATCH
Utah Exum Mountain Adventures
Want to climb Utah’s mountains with a qualified guide? Want a service associated with the superb Grand Teton National Park Exum Mountain Guides? Exum guides go out of their ways to take the busy weekend mountaineer or skier a notch above the usual. Powder ski the chutes. Learn to do the run-out leads on the granite. Take your spouse or kids to basic climbing school. Learn to avoid and deal with avalanches. You’ll find out how good you really are or can become. Exum guides have the patience and technique to make your day a great alpine experience. Utah Exum operates under a Forest Service permit.
Salt Lake City, 801-550-3986, Exum.OfUtah.com
BEST BICYCLE RIDE FOR A BUFFALO MATADOR
Marina to the Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island
News flash: Antelope Island State Park is less about antelope than its bison herds. These wild and occasionally ferocious beasts (more people in the United States have been killed or injured by buffalo than grizzly bears) love to hang around the road leading from the marina at the entrance of the island to Fielding Garr Ranch. It’s a lovely and scenic ride with the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains to the east and the island’s fascinating quartzite mountains to the west. Best times to ride are spring and fall. In spring, wildflowers festoon the slopes. Watch yourself if a 2-ton bison has planted himself on the road. Don’t charge ahead without cape and sword, though; you may lose the battle.
BEST ART GALLERY
BEST ROLLER SKATING
There was a time that roller rinks meant only roller skating. You hung out with friends, you met boys from rival high schools. Oh, that is so ‘80s. Classic Skating now offers laser tag, inflatable bouncing contraptions for kids to play on and a dimecade. But at its essence, this place still means skating. The rink is big. It’s loud. And every wheeled contraption you might need is available for rent or purchase—in-line skates, scooters, roller hockey equipment and custom skates and components. Well-organized birthday parties, too.
Multiple locations, ClassicSkating.com
2. Hollywood Connection
3. Liberty Park
BEST REASON TO VISIT A NUNNERY
The annual fair at Holladay’s Carmelite Monastery, held the third Sunday of each September, defines autumn in the Beehive State. Last year, the light gracing the wooded groves in front of the nuns’ living quarters fell gently over the ethnic food tables and diners. The sounds of a Scottish bagpipe band, of Greek and Flamenco dancing music, and the smoke from the barbecued sausages all added to the atmosphere of celebration. Such pleasures inevitably come with a price. Leaving the fair, not only was summer over for another year, but the reverent beauty of the monastery was no longer ours to share.
5714 Holladay Blvd., Holladay, 801-277-6075 , CarmelSLC.org
BEST CHILDREN’S PARADE
East Mill Creek 4th of July
A tottering Uncle Sam on stilts, his jacket ripped down one side, received help from a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty as the two walked along East Mill Creek’s July 4th parade last year. Whether such curious symbolism struck a chord with onlookers or not, the spirit of the day was decidedly small-town American, albeit in Salt Lake City’s ’burbs. Although one float caused a power outage when it shot metallic streamers onto overhead power lines, even the resulting explosion and shower of sparks that sent locals scurrying for cover, could not dampen the joviality that made East Mill Creek’s 4th of July celebrations as American as apple pie.